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Abbott rules out WorkChoices, but not other c -

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Abbott rules out WorkChoices, but not other changes

Broadcast: 19/07/2010

Reporter: Nick Harmsen

The election campaign has opened with a resurrection for Labor's poll figures, and a promise not to
return to WorkChoices.

Transcript

LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Tony Abbott signed a death warrant today for the Howard Government's old
WorkChoices policy.

At the same time, the Opposition Leader wouldn't rule out future changes to industrial relations,
allowing the Prime Minister to claim WorkChoices will be back.

Labor's enjoying its own revival of sorts, according to the campaign's first major opinion poll.

From Canberra, Nick Harmsen reports.

NICK HARMSEN, REPORTER: The Opposition Leader is being haunted by his past.

RED SPEEDO-WEARING PROTESTOR: Like the cut of my Speedos, Tony. Do you like them?

NICK HARMSEN: The ghost of WorkChoices has lingered longer than Tony Abbott would have liked.

TONY ABBOTT, OPPOSITION LEADER: Dead, buried, cremated.

3AW COMPERE: The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

TONY ABBOTT: Dead, buried, cremated.

3AW COMPERE: Written down?

TONY ABBOTT: Um, give me a bit of paper, I'll sign it here: "dead, buried cremated". "Dead, buried
cremated".

NICK HARMSEN: A contract killing ...

3AW COMPERE: That was the first contract of the election campaign and it's an awful gimmick.

NICK HARMSEN: ... with one significant condition.

TONY ABBOTT: It's dead, it's buried, it's cremated now and forever. But, obviously I can't give an
absolute guarantee about every single aspect of workplace relations legislation.

NICK HARMSEN: While he's ruled out any change to legislation, Mr Abbott won't give the same
guarantee about the industrial relations regulations.

JULIA GILLARD, PRIME MINISTER: The camouflage that Mr Abbott tried to create hasn't even lasted two
days, and it's abundantly clear that if Mr Abbott became Prime Minister the worst aspect of
WorkChoices would be back.

TONY ABBOTT: She can tell as many fibs as she likes, but the fact is WorkChoices, it's dead, it's
buried, it's cremated.

NICK HARMSEN: One of its architects isn't beyond resurrection. An Abbott and Costello Show rerun
aimed to put another clichéd campaign slogan into an early grave.

PETER COSTELLO, FORMER TREASURER: No amount of moronic repetition of "moving forward" ... (adopts
Gillard-esque voice intonation) "moving forward" will overcome the fact that there is a record
there ...

NICK HARMSEN: Julia Gillard moved her camp north, overcrowding one family home as she spruiked her
population policy.

JULIA GILLARD: Moving forward, sustainable Australia.

NICK HARMSEN: Ms Gillard is moving ahead in one key area: the first Newspoll of the campaign has
stretched her lead as preferred prime minister.

JULIA GILLARD: I believe this election is on a knife edge. I believe it's gonna be a photo finish.

NICK HARMSEN: The poll shows otherwise. Labor's gaining ground after preferences, while more voters
are considering giving their first preference to the Greens. That will please Bob Brown.

BOB BROWN, GREENS LEADER: I don't like backroom preference negotiations with other parties. In
fact, I'm sick of it.

NICK HARMSEN: But his party has just completed a deal to swap preferences with Labor in 50 seats.

BOB BROWN: I understand there's a release gone out this morning which says in the majority of
marginal seats that will be the case.

NICK HARMSEN: It's a deal which does nothing to help Tony Abbott, who's showing all the signs of a
sluggish start. The Liberal Party's campaign headquarters in Melbourne won't be fully operational
until Wednesday. It will have to compete with a well-oiled Labor machine which is sending out
campaign material at a rapid rate.

Labor is also moving to limit Tony Abbott's opportunities. While Kevin Rudd was prepared for three
debates, Julia Gillard is likely to front just one, this Sunday night at a time when many
Australians will be watching a different contest.

JULIA GILLARD: I can understand the fascination with cooking and eating, so I know many Australians
will watch that show, but I think Australians too'll pay some regard to the debate and to the
election campaign and what's said in it.

NICK HARMSEN: It's a pressure test like no other.

Nick Harmsen, Lateline.